Question of the Day: How are we doing?/Response to a Reader critique.

Reader Herp writes:

Newish lurker here.

While I like the idea of this blog, it seems a bit slow traffic-wise. Since there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of activity from readers I thought I’d share what I want to see.

1: Antiques. Lesser known milsurp tools all the way back to classical antiquity and beyond. Give me photos of stone-age tech if you see it at a museum or something.

2: Foreign stuff. Show me the knives of different cultures.

3: Seen in the wild posts: if a knife is identified in photos from conflicts, workshops or adventures elsewhere, show it. Don’t force your own stories so much. I can’t believe that people outside this blog use knives so infrequently that they aren’t seen doing it from time to time.

4: Knives in art: plenty of knives in Hollywood, old paintings, statues, etc. critique it.

5: Variations on the theme: let’s see some chisels and saws. Show me similar implements and show me how they’re USED. A lot of time seems to be devoted to knife making here, and that’s cool, but readers are more likely to be mere users. Show me whittling, bushcraft, culinary use, whatever.

I’d like to see this thing get momentum, but I believe the content may need some work. Maybe I just need to lurk more. Good luck folks.

One of the things I like about this gig is that we are not strictly a “gear blog”. I love knives, frankly more than I ever imagined I would now that I have spent the past 4 years “diving down the rabbit hole”. That said, I really enjoy the fact that we also cover (to borrow from our parent blog)  the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of knives. – not just knives as physical objects.

I appreciate Herp’s suggestions, and figured I would throw the floor open to you all. How are we doing? Are we missing something? Are we covering some things too much? Or are we striking the kind of balance that you all like to see?

After 4 years, we have built a pretty extensive archive of material. My first reaction to Herp’s comment was to call to mind posts that do in fact cover some of his suggestions. My purpose in writing this is not to discount his concerns, rather to bring some of our archived posts to light for those who might not have been following TTAK since its inception.

Probably the best way for me to do this is to fisk his list and offer examples. Please feel free to mention any that have stuck in your mind.

1:Antiques/Milsurp/Ancient tools:

I fell like of all of his critiques, this one is the most questionable. The posts that immediately come to mind are our posts on the history of the Fairbairn and KaBar knives. One of my favorites was the “Sunday Longread: Ka-Bar and Fairbairn – Two fighting children of different philosophies, though the Video of WWII British Commando Trooper Stan W. Scott describing the Fairbairn’s use was a big hit.

As far as ancient tools, I can think of the Obscure object of desire: Ancient Roman Swiss Army Knife, or more recently our piece on King Tut’s “alien” dagger which was forged from meteorite iron. The Inforgraphic: History of the Pocketknife was kind of cool as well.

While not pertaining to historical knives themselves, our Blade Wielding Bad-Ass from History posts have been fun posts to research.

I have mentioned my intention to write more about my archaeology experience, especially as it pertains to paleolithic tools. I admit to being remiss in this. There is this one about animal residue being found on a 500k year-old stone knife.

There is obviously a plethora of material that I haven’t covered with regards to both historical knives and historical knife use. I would be happy to write more, please forward on any links you might find of interest on this topic, or any of the topics listed to


2:Foreign Stuff:

By definition I have less of a background in this area. That said, we have covered quite a bit about UK and European knife laws, and have highlighted knives such as the Fallkniven LTC or Spyderco Pingo which are legal in most countries with restrictive knife laws.

As far as knives of other cultures with a more historical bent, two posts that jump out at me are my one on the Dha, the historical Asian sword style, or if you are looking for a specific example the Goujian, an exquisite ancient Chinese jian-style sword. Another example is this post from Chris on the actions of a Ghurka Rifleman using his kukri in the Afaganistan war, or this one about a Sikh student being allowed to bring his kirpan to school in Seattle. We have run quite a few “Know your Knives” posts, for example the  Japanese Higo No Kami,   Russian Yakut, and Canadian Belt Knife.

Again, I would love to do more posts in this area, I just need help from you all to make it happen.


3: Seen in the wild:

I admit I am not exactly clear on what Herp is looking for in this category, but we often try to include something bushcraft related in our Knife Reviews, if such tests are appropriate. A couple of specific examples are my making a rudimentary frog-gig with my Benchmade Steep Country Hunter or the extensive brush clearing I did with my Mora Bushcraft Black. David in particular makes a lot of “fuzz sticks” and tent pegs in his testing.

The better venue for “knives in action” is probably our Instagram feed (@knifetruth). We are constantly posting pictures of knives actually being used, like this one I posted of the Big Chris SteelHead in its natural habitat, a Smoky Mountain trout stream after I had used it to gut a fish I had just caught.


Does this qualify as a knife in the wild?

If Herp chooses to respond to this post, I would love a little guidance on this one.


4: Knives in art:

We are fairly light in this area, I admit – especially in the non-television sense. We have written extensively about the Forged in Fire series, which Murray Carter calls one of the most significant developments in the knife world of late, and David’s Knives of History’s Alone Season 2 has been an organic-view gold mine. When I found a piece about the knives in the movie the Revenant I covered it, and even reached out to the maker, Michael Mann of Idaho Knifeworks to do a 5 from the Grinder piece.

I know that there is a lot more we can cover, and I welcome any feedback or guidance on this topic. Ideas anyone?

5: Variations on the theme:

We frequently include sword content, both because it makes good copy, but also because there is an awful lot of material out there on the subject. I have talked about some other specialty knives such as my woodworking marking knives, and I did this primer on Japanese woodworking saws. We have touched on spoon carving, both with a piece by someone who does it semi-professionally, as well as documenting my own humble attempts.

my latest attempt at spoon carving

Within this area of critique Herp highlights that we might lean a little heavily on the knifemaking posts. This is probably a valid concern, but if you will pardon the pun, it is a double-edged sword. Fact is knifemaking posts get an above average number of day-one views. I admit that I am fascinated by the topic, but I also feel that when you understand how a knife is made you have a greater understanding of knives across the board. It has certainly helped me in this regard. One thing I love about our 5 from the Grinder series is that it gives us a window into the makers, and helps one see the design and construction philosophy behind the piece of steel sitting in front of you. It “forges” a connection between maker and reader/consumer, and I am quite proud of the series.

That said, I do realize that we run a lot of knifemaking posts – especially videos. Simply put, there is a ton of material out there, and it is a nice diversion from heavier, news-related posts. It is always easy to find something to post, especially to keep depressing stories such as those about the Palestinian Knife Intifada from lingering too long at the top of the front page.

What do you all think? Are we getting too knifemaking-heavy? Or is it about right?

I hope Herp does not mind my singling him out, but I appreciated his comment in my recent and wanted to give it a more thorough response than a reply in the Comment section. We are always looking for new rabbit holes to explore, and appreciate any help you all might lend us in this regard. So thank you Herp for your thoughtful critique. I hope that I have treated it with the respect you feel it deserves.

So after a long and meandering journey down memory lane, what say you? How are we doing? Feel free to let us have it. The only way we are going to bring you more of what you want is for you all to let us know what it is you want.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Sam L. says:

    I’m guessing that maybe Herp is trying to suggest more reader input/content. He makes it sound like he wants it from YOU, Clay, but we realize you have work to do to feed your family and that this is a part-time blog for you.

    I think you’re doing well, now. I’m sure reader suggestions and links to articles they find would be appreciated.

  2. stuartb says:

    Come for the knife reviews, stay for the rest!

    You guys do a great job, I like the diversity of the coverage, keep it coming.

  3. I’m very new to your site and I think it’s great. I’m looking forward to reading more and learning from your experience and readers experiences. I am a bit obsessed with knives and personally prefer Swedish steel in a knife. What is the best way for the readers to contribute to your content? What’s the best hashtag to use?

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Question of the Day: How are we doing?/Response to a Reader critique.

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email